by Mark Vinkovits, Marco Jahn and René Reiners
Information and communication technology (ICT) is becoming a key factor to develop green and sustainable applications within Smart City scenarios. Effective management of resources, gathering and interpreting data as well as ecological considerations are prerequisites for realizing the vision of smart cities. The two European FP7 projects ALMANAC and DIMMER address these issues by providing a generic, flexible and quickly customizable platform for application development.
A Smart City service Platform (SCP) for application design and implementation needs to collect, aggregate, and analyse real-time or near real-time data from, e.g., appliances, sensors and actuators or smart meters that have been deployed to implement processes running over a pervasive data communication network. The platform must allow decision support, and implement an intelligent control of devices through an M2M network as well as the management of local installations. The FP7 project ALMANAC combines real-life validations with simulation techniques leading to large-scale hybrid simulations that allow to test the entire system and simulate critical loads conditions within large scale deployments.
ALMANAC focuses on the development of integrated cross-application information systems. A service delivery platform with corresponding technology solutions integrates Internet of Things (IoT) edge networks with communication access for green and sustainable applications. The developed services contain management of public and private network access - containing Telco M2M infrastructure, common abstraction of resources, handling of gathering latest and historical values of heterogeneous information sources, and reuse of data models provided by individual applications. The ALMANAC architecture has been designed to emphasize these services, which are then demonstrated through three example applications: Waste management, water management, and citizen engagement.
The four main services for the SCP that were indicated as initial starting points cover interoperability over devices, such that applications can make use of any protocol over a uniform web-service based interface. Service virtuality makes it possible to overcome physical network boundaries and to simplify application design. Composing rules and data caches help to define thresholds and detect trends when concrete values are not needed or their retrieval takes too long for the current use case. Privacy policies of individual providers enforce applications to only access data and functionalities for which they have explicit access rights.
Another aspect of smart city scenarios is covered by smart grids where “prosumers“ that are both, energy producers and consumers at the same time must be integrated into the grid infrastructure. This flexibility pose new challenges to the ICT infrastructure for planning and managing smart cities. The FP7 European Project DIMMER (District Information Modeling and Management for Energy Reduction) - addresses this emerging aspect that plays a major role in the field of renewable and independently generated energy. DIMMER leverages real-time data from heterogeneous data sources and subsystems such as smart meters and wireless sensor networks to model the environmental characteristics and energy consumption of districts. At the district level this information is used to optimize district heating and cooling and the energy grid, acting as an enabler for the visions of smart cities and the smart grid. The project involves relevant stakeholders as central players in the research and development process, such as distribution system operators (DSOs), energy service companies (ESCOs), residents, building managers, and city planners. End user applications are developed targeting the needs of the different stakeholders and aiming at improving the mutual relationship between them, taking into account the fact that the concept of a smart city does not only have a technological dimension but must also consider people and institutions .
Through advanced visualization and simulation, DSOs will be able to better understand the usage of their networks and take informed decisions e.g. to improve peak demand management and reduction, energy and cost-analysis, tariff planning and evaluation, failure identification and maintenance. Applications for residents and building managers will help to create bi-directional feedback channels between energy providers, consumers and prosumers allowing more effective control of the energy distribution network. In conclusion, the expected results are a consistent reduction in both energy consumption and CO2 emissions by enabling efficient energy distribution policies, according to the real characteristics of district buildings and inhabitants as well as efficient utilization and maintenance of the energy distribution network.
Figure 1 shows the described main pillar of the project, namely stakeholder involvement, technology platform and building/district information modelling.
In order to validate the platform, both public and private buildings included in mixed urban districts are considered in two different cities, i.e., Turin (IT) and Manchester (UK).
Fraunhofer FIT is responsible for the design and development of the software platforms’ architecture, device integration as well as leading the requirements engineering process. FIT will bring into the project its extensive knowledge and experience in middleware development. It will employ and further develop the LinkSmart Middleware to allow integration of heterogeneous technologies and systems in the smart city districts .
LinkSmart, itself was established as an EU research project and is continuously reused and further developed in follow-up research.
 T. Nam, T. A. Pardo: “Conceptualizing smart city with dimensions of technology, people, and institutions”, in proc. of dg.o ‘11, ACM, New York, NY, USA, 282-291, 2011, DOI=10.1145/2037556.2037602 http://doi.acm.org/10.1145/2037556.2037602
 M. Eisenhauer, P. Rosengren, P. Antolin: “Hydra: A development platform for integrating wireless devices and sensors into ambient intelligence systems”, in The Internet of Things (pp. 367-373). Springer New York, 2010.
Mark Vinkovits, Marco Jahn, René Reiners
Fraunhofer FIT, Germany